RaShaan Perkins is never one to shy away from an introduction.
An aspiring rapper, the 24-year-old, who prefers to go by his stage name, izzeYe, has been performing and marketing himself since age 14.
“I got used to having to go out of my way to show who I am,” izzeYe says.
That includes at his alma mater, Hofstra University.
In January, izzeYe was approached with the unusual opportunity of being signed to Mane Records, a student-run music label at the Hempstead university, and to work with music executives who have produced tracks for Drake and 50 Cent.
Launched in December, Mane Records is run entirely by students under the mentorship of industry heavy hitters and funded through donors. As part of the semester-long program, students immerse themselves in all aspects of the recording business and, in some cases, receive academic credit. The goal is to sign one or two artists per academic year. The program culminates in a live performance of the label’s recorded material.
On Saturday, Oct. 7, izzeYe, a Pennsylvania native who counts Lil Wayne as his idol, will open for the rap megastar at the university’s fall concert — a day after his EP “Allusions” is released via iTunes, Amazon Music, Spotify, Tidal and more than a dozen other streaming outlets.
“I could be doing this by myself, but it would not be moving as efficiently and as smoothly as it is,” says izzeYe, who lives in Brooklyn and graduated with a degree in global studies last year. “This opportunity — it’s extraordinary.”
REAL TIME CLASS
Julietta Falbo, 21, and Brian Sommer, 20, both students who participated in the inaugural program, say the experience has been invaluable for them on the business side of things as well.
“You can only learn so much in a classroom,” says Sommer, the label’s vice president of public relations. “Having this real-world experience working with actual people who have worked in the industry has been absolutely amazing.”
In 2017 Billboard magazine included Hofstra University and its music business program in its list of the 15 best music business schools, for the second consecutive year.
Falbo and Sommer are among the 20 students who were selected from a pool of 157 applicants across disciplines to be mentored by Alberto Erazo, a Universal Music art director; Angel Martinez, a Def Jam Recordings product manager; Rigo Morales, a vice president of A&R and artist development at Atlantic Records; Andre Morris, CEO of Varran Media, and Vanessa Satten, editor-in-chief of XXL magazine.
“They gained real-life experience by going through the process of finding and signing izzeYe, the artist, and recording, distributing and promoting music,” says Sharon Goldsmith, the CEO of the label and director of operations at Hofstra’s Center for Entrepreneurship, which administers the program.
Mane Records was the brainchild of Goldsmith, who spent 10 years at G-Unit Records in various roles, including as director of finance.
“The stuff that she could pass on to us, the knowledge and things she’s done, it really helped to have her be the person spearheading the project,” Falbo says, adding that she “expected a lot of hard work” in her role as vice president of marketing at the label. “And that’s definitely what we got,” Falbo says.
izzeYe’s album took about six months to produce at Engine Room Audio in New York City. The music video for his single “It’s Okay” was filmed over two days in a studio in the university’s School of Communication.
izzeYe says this whirlwind experience is not one he will ever take lightly.
“Nowadays, labels don’t have time to build someone from the ground up. They expect you to have everything intact,” izzeYe says. But that isn’t the case at Mane Records. “They were really into getting to know me. It was humbling in itself and they’ll probably never know how much that meant to me.”
Hofstra University’s student-run record label